The following flash-fiction piece, “Goodnight,” was written by 16-year-old Melissa Lauria. Melissa is from Long Island, New York, and currently attends Smithtown High School West. On her history and relationship with writing she says:
I have been writing for about six years now, and I have fallen in love with the art. I find something so moving about the way words can be constructed to cause emotion. I began writing when I began going through struggles in life, when the shelter built over me during my childhood suddenly crumbled, and I was left with only pieces, and a mixture of words on paper. It has helped me to sort out problems, realize who I am, who I want to be, and how to achieve that. But also, it helps me to connect with people I otherwise never would have been able to, on a deeper level than most. I love to write, and to my excitement, I’m only just getting started.
She thanks her creative writing teacher for her “progression deeper into [her] craft” as she begins another piece of flash-fiction dealing with mental health issues like depression. With this work, she endeavors to bring a new perspective to what she calls “the often taboo subject.”
He always sleeps with me. I don’t think I would be able to get a good night’s rest without him. The pitter-patter of rain against the window, singing songbirds in the night. Before we met, I thought I was an insomniac. I would spend hours in bed, wishing to drift away. Ceiling fans swirling, curtains blowing, heads hitting pillows. He tells me he loves me. I know he means it.
He never kisses me goodnight. I wish he did. Tossing and turning, sighing, a sip from the glass on the nightstand. My light always stays on. I like to read until he falls asleep. I like to make sure he’s safe before I begin to drift off as well. My light never bothers him.
Sometimes I get up during the night. I don’t know if he can tell that I’m gone. Early morning bathroom trips and midnight snacks. I don’t think I’ve ever woken him. I often come back to hear him murmuring in his sleep. I lay on my side, attempting to decipher all the jumbled syllables. I make out a few “I love you’s”. I know he dreams about me.
Night terrors often bombard me. I wake sweating and crying. I am lucky that he is a heavy sleeper. I’m not sure if he knows I get them. I will never tell.
Sweet Dreams, my dear.
Sometimes I still stay up all night. It doesn’t happen as much as it used to, though. The tick tock of a grandfather clock keeps the pace of my heartbeat. I am silent. I don’t wish to wake him. He has things to do tomorrow. He is an important man.
I’ll always be near.
I don’t bother to wake him up when my alarm sounds. He gets up later than me. My work starts a couple hours before his. It’s alright though. It always soothes me to hear his steady breathing while I dress for the day.
We’ll meet another day a few hours ahead.
Shower on, hot water on my back. Lavender scented soaps, shampoo. Humming quiet show tunes. Water off, towel on. Makeup. Hair in a ponytail today: it’s too hot to leave it down. He is used to the hot weather. He tells me he likes the humidity, it’s comforting. I always tell him I’m a polar bear. I love the cold. He never makes my coffee in the morning. I never make his. He wakes up ten minutes before I leave the house.
Wishing we could stay home together instead.
Tired feet head toward the bathroom. Running water. He is brushing his teeth. I pack my lunch: an apple, and a bottle of water.
Good Morning, my little spoon.
I am ready to leave. I slip on my heels and grab my purse. Keys jingle. He tells me he has to go, that he will call me later tonight. I tell him that I love it when I can hear him breathing at night. I tell him it makes me feel like he is here with me. He tells me he hates that the phone separates us, webcams don’t do me any justice. He tells me he wishes we weren’t so far away, that we were together. I tell him I can’t wait until we are.